Household Cleaning Products
We offer a range of alternative cleaning products (that you can make yourself too from everyday ingredients – we’ll send you the recipe) aiming to be environmentally sound, healthy, and cost-efficient. We have looked for alternatives because of concerns raised regarding many of the ingredients found in cleaning products from both a health and, environmental perspective.
Most of us think of our homes as safe havens and environmental pollution as a problem that is 'out there'. But, some of the chemicals we come into contact with are not blown in through the window from some anonymous factory or passing car. We buy them ourselves in good faith and bring them into our homes. Many of the products we use every day contain chemicals designated as 'hazardous waste' by government agencies!
Issues raised regarding household cleaners relate to ingredients linked to allergies, cancer, skin reactions, headaches, joint pain, fatigue, chest pains, dizziness, loss of sleep, asthma etc. Ingredients from household cleaning products make their way into the environment too through various routes: flushed down toilets, poured down sinks, sprayed into the air, put into the rubbish, dumped into landfill etc.
The following gives just a few examples of issues raised:
- Air Fresheners You might be hoping that a chemical air freshener will improve the air quality in your home, making air more fresh. Yet, health researchers often find that it actually reduces your home or car air quality. This conclusion comes, for example, from tracing various human health reactions, such as headache, irritated eyes and nose and other allergic reactions, to the presence of the air freshener and its certain chemical components.
There has also been a number of alarming reports from studies of animal (mice) responses to common household air fresheners, which have shown asthma like reactions of the animal breathing systems. There were also indications of neurotoxity, when the chemicals affected nervous system, causing odd behaviors.
A common harmful ingredient of air fresheners is limonene. Limonene irritates eyes, mouth, skin. It can also cause incoordination and dizziness. You may also be breathing petroleum distillates, which can irritate or damage your lungs. You may feel fatigue and confusion when your air freshener contains tolune. Some air freshener chemicals show themselves more in long term, like cancerogenic benzene compounds, or phthalates interfering with hormone production. You can also find such toxic chemicals as methylformamide, terpinolene, methoxybenzaldehyde, and butanoic acid.
In some cases, potential health hazards of a given air freshener, such as cancer threat, are acknowledged by the air freshener's manufacturer. So, read the product label carefully.
- Phosphates are naturally occurring and important to nature. Problems arise though, when too many phosphates enter into the environment. They are present in many products – fertilisers, animal feeds and, have been common in laundry and dishwashing detergents. The average consumer uses about 13.5 kilos of laundry detergent a year! High phosphate levels can kill life in rivers, streams and oceans by causing "algae blooms." These disrupt the natural ecosystem by stealing oxygen from the water. They can build up and endanger aquatic life. Algae slimes dense enough to suffocate marine life have been swelling around the world, especially in coastal bays. http://www.shareguide.com/hazard.html
- We don’t always know what is in our cleaning products (a list of ingredients is not always supplied only warnings!) or what the full effects of them are. For example, The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/ has found that one-third of the substances used in the fragrance industry are toxic. Fragrances are added to almost all cleaning products. Formulas of fragrances are considered trade secrets, so companies don’t have to list fragrance ingredients on labels of products; they only need to label them as containing “fragrance.” Many can cause dizziness, nausea, allergic reactions, and eye, skin, and respiratory tract irritation and, some are carcinogenic. As an example, laundry detergents commonly use phthalates to impart fragrance to laundry. Phthalates may be hormone disruptors. Europe has banned the use of several different phthalates. One of the banned phthalates which is used more commonly in detergents in the USA has been listed as a reproductive toxin in the EU. Other phthalates have been banned there also because of liver and kidney toxicity. (Greenpeace Italy)
In a study, researchers measured the presence of seven different phthalates in the human subjects who participated in the study. The phthalates found at the highest levels are compounds that are used primarily in detergents, lubricating oils and solvents. They were diethyl phthalate, (DEP) dibutly phthalate (DBP) and benzylbutyl phthalate (BzBP) This surprised the researchers, since the phthalate most abundantly used in industry are not among these phthalates. Evidently, the detergent borne phthalate is more easily transferred to the human body. This particular phthalate is in very close contact with skin since it is the one that will be present on clothing as a residue from the laundering processes. We wear clothes almost all the time so detergent residues which remain on fabric fibers after laundering, have an enormous window of time in which to transfer themselves onto our bodies. Once an oil soluble substance such as a phthalate makes contact with the skin it is readily absorbed into the skin layers and ultimately into the underlying living tissues. Time, proximity and the phthalates that are included in detergents will therefore impact our bodies more significantly than the phthalates from other sources. http://www.brighthub.com/environment/green-living/articles/17617.aspx#ixzz1Ih9GmWSx
- In recent years, more and more antibacterial products have been introduced – in kitchen and bathroom cleaners quickly followed by antibacterial soaps, dishwashing liquids, body washes, window cleaners etc. Some companies have begun to impregnate the plastic used to make cutting boards, toothbrushes, and children's toys with an antibacterial agent too. Is this really the way to go?
Anti-bacterial agents eg.Triclosan never kill 100% of the bacteria they come in contact with. Even the best anti-bacterial cleaner admits this. If you watch the commercials closely, you'll hear all of them report that they kill 99% or 99.9% of the germs. And this is where the potential problem is. The 1% or 0.1% of remaining bacteria, the ones that survived the cleaning agent, could possibly have done so by possessing resistant genes to that brand of disinfectant. If this is the case, then could we be breeding resistant germs? We've killed all the ones that are susceptible, and now have the resistant ones left behind to re-colonize the surface we've just cleaned! Bacteria grow fast. And now, because most of the bacteria have been killed, additional living space is available for the resistant strain.
Fifty years ago, penicillin was the world's newest wonder drug, an antibiotic used to treat Streptococcus infections. Among other illnesses, Streptococcus is the bacterium that causes strep throat. Penicillin worked great at wiping out these infections, until the Streptococcus bacteria mutated and became resistant to treatment by penicillin. New and stronger antibiotics were developed, and those too, worked to treat strep infections until, once again, the bacteria became resistant. Streptococcus is just one example of many bacteria resistant to some antibiotics. In June 2000, the World Health Organization warned that antibacterial products may be contributing to the rise in antibiotic resistant bacteria. There is concern that some types of infection will not be treatable with antibiotics. We’ve all heard about the emergence of superbugs – MRSA.
- In The European Respiratory Journal researchers found a link between exposure to everyday household cleaning products such as bleach and air freshener in women during pregnancy, or shortly after birth, and wheezing and asthma in their young children.
- 232 industrial chemicals and pollutants have been found in the umbilical cord blood of newborns.
- Research shows that people terribly misuse household chemicals. People mix them when they shouldn’t and don’t use proper protection potentially creating lethal cocktails. .
- Enzymes used in laundry detergents act on materials that make up a variety of stains and soils so that these materials can be washed away more easily. These enzymes are named after the materials they can act upon, for example, proteases break down protein based stains, lipolases break down lipid (fat) based stains and amylases break down starches and other carbohydrate based stains . If residual enzymes are trapped in your clothing/sheets/underwear they are up against your skin night and day. Enzymes can be reactivated by sweat and moisture – and continue doing the job they were designed for which is removing fats and proteins – on your skin and potentially causing allergic reactions and health issues.
About Our Cleaners - Made From The Pantry
Natural cleaning products that can be made from everyday ingredients can be substituted for many of the cleaners on the market. Our experience is that THEY WORK AS WELL AS AND ARE GREAT!!!! All you need are a few inexpensive ingredients and information on how to put them together. Many of the ingredients we use have been used for generations and, are excellent in their cleaning properties. You'll be amazed and, very impressed by just how well they work! Ingredients that you recognise the name of!
We have developed our range of cleaners over time and they really do the job in hand without all those 'nasties' in them. We are not precious about our cleaning recipes. A plethora of recipes have been used by thousands of people and, over many generations (your Nan might have used similar!). If you would like the recipe along with your purchase so that you can do your own refill just ask! Recipes that have been tried and tested and tweaked accordingly and we believe, are the best of the bunch!
What follows is a list of the very simple ingredients we use in our cleaning products and why we like them:
Vinegar is a natural organic bi-product of fruits, vegetables and grains. It is therefore edible and biodegradable. It is 'The Perfect Household Cleaner' for your family because it is very safe for the environment, for family members, especially those with asthma. It is well recognised as a cleaning and sanitising agent. It is effective against a broad range of bacteria, yeasts and moulds, destroying or reducing these organisms to acceptable levels. It is effective on a variety of surfaces - laminate, wood, tile, concrete, stainless steel and granite.
Liquid Soap (We like Castilian Soap) we add this to some of our products as a surfactant which simply means that it helps to ‘wet things’ more evenly. Soap molecules have tails which attract dirt and pull it away from the surface it was on. We like Castilian Soap because it is made from Vegetable Oils rather than animal fats or synthetic substitutes. The very simple nature of the soap means it has a lesser environmental impact due to a reduced waste stream in its manufacture and, faster biodegradeability.
Hard Soap When a recipe has called for a hard soap (laundry powder) we use a Pure Vegetable Soap.
Washing Soda In laundry, washing soda accomplishes several things. The high alkalinity of washing soda helps it to act as a solvent to remove a range of stains. Only a small amount of soap is needed as it also acts as a very efficient water softener. The washing soda binds to the minerals which make water hard, allowing the soap to do its job properly and clothing will come out clean, without any residue.
Bicarbonate of Soda (Baking Soda) is a very versatile substance and similar to washing soda in its actions. Washing Soda is the ‘gruntier’ relative. We add it to boost the actions of deodorising, removing sweat, stains and, as a degreaser for laundry purposes. In general cleaning, we choose baking soda as a deodoriser, degreaser and for stain removal.
Essential Oils have been chosen to make our homes smell clean,lovely and fresh! But also, because of their properties to assist the tasks in hand. Essential oils are the highly-concentrated extractions of the flowers, leaves, bark, resin, and roots of plants. Not only do they carry stimulating odors, but the phytochemicals have beneficial properties as well. The reason essential oils are ideal to use in natural cleaning products is that they are natural antiseptics; they destroy harmful bacteria just as harsh commercial cleaning supplies do. They are fungicidal, helping to kill fungus and inhibit fungal growth. They leave our homes smelling clean, fresh and lovely and are often mood enhancers too! Who said cleaning couldn’t make us feel good!?!
Using Natural Handmade Cleaners
Keep your cleaners labelled and stored away from children (unlike commercial cleaners there is nothing in them that will send you racing to the casualty dept. but vinegar will sting eyes and washing soda is caustic etc.)
Don't reuse containers of commercial cleaning products as there may still be residues of their chemicals!
Never mix commercial products with your homemade products - you don't know what you could create!
Even though our cleaners smell lovely and many of the ingredients are edible please don't eat or drink them!?!
All our products are sold in good faith with no 'scientific claims' other than knowledge that has been passed forward over generations. We are all different and people do develop sensitivities so we leave it with you to test out if you suspect you might be susceptible.